READING is turning a page with the opening of a new school library to boost pupils’ love of literature.

An old social area at Beaumont Hill Academy, part of the Education Village, Darlington, has been transformed into a purpose-built library.

Research has shown that children exposed to books every day from a young age benefit from an expanded vocabulary of as many as 1.4 million extra words.

The library, set up by curriculum lead for secondary English Jen Keaveney with the help of teaching assistant Hayley Smith, also features iPads to access audio books.

The new on-site facility is expected to encourage young people to read because it is close to hand and means children no longer have to rely on the Education Village’s learning resource centre at the front of the campus.

Miss Keaveney said: “Our focus is on raising the profile of reading in the academy because of the benefits to learning and the way it helps children develop socially. We want pupils to develop a love of books and never to feel embarrassed about reading. With our students’ additional needs, reading is another way of understanding their feelings as they can often identify with the characters in the books.

“They can escape into another world when they pick up a book thereby broadening their horizons. We also have tactile books for our students who learn through sensory experiences and I wanted to make sure the new library was accessible to everyone, with a large floor space, lots of comfy cushions and tents where they can create their own little haven.”

More confident readers will get the opportunity to use the Accelerated Reader programme which assesses their ability, selects an appropriate level book and monitors progress. Students will also be timetabled dedicated reading time in the library with extended sessions for GCSE pupils.

A recent upcycling competition for children to mark World Book Day will see their special designs painted on chairs which will then take up residence in the library.